Former Wells Fargo chief Dick Kovacevich said Tuesday that Chinas economy has slowed because the rest of the world has decelerated, not because its the worlds growth engine.

Until they have their domestic economy more dominant, theyre simply reacting to the worldwide economy, he told CNBCs Squawk Box, referring to the countrys effort to transition to a consumer-led economy rather than one fueled by exports and investment.

Everyone says China is slowing. No, the worlds economy is slowing.

In contrast, the US economy is doing well because the country is not overly dependent on exports and can grow in the absence of a worldwide economic boom, Kovacevich said.

China cant, or cant to the same degree by a huge factor, until they get their domestic economy going.

Read MoreUncertainty about rates, China slams stock futures

China sent shock waves through global markets last month when it unexpectedly devalued its currency. Some market watchers feared the move, which supports Chinas exports, was a sign that the countrys economy was slowing more than previously thought.

Robert Hormats, Kissinger Associates vice chairman, said it was too soon to know whether Chinas deceleration has bottomed.

I think it will be hard to tell because it is not as transparent as some other countries, he told Squawk Box.

However, he said President Xi Jinping was doing the right things and his team is committed to allowing market forces to play a greater role in the Chinese economy.

Xi arrives in Seattle on Tuesday, where he will give a speech and meet with business leaders. He then travels to Washington, DC, and meets with President Barack Obama.

Read MoreXi has chance to clarify China role on world stage



Chinese President Xi Jinping, who begins a week-long visit to the United States in Seattle Tuesday, sought to play down various issues involving China -- ranging from global concerns about its economy to its territorial claims in the South China Sea, and the issue of cybersecurity, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Xi said that despite the recent "downward pressure" faced by China's economy, it is still operating within the "proper range." The interview comes at a time when Chinese shares have seen a sharp decline in value over fears of flagging exports and slowing economic growth. Xi was responding to written questions posed by the Journal.

"China's economic growth is still one of the fastest in the world," Xi told the Journal, when asked about the recent slowdown, likening the economic turbulence to "unstable sailing" in rough seas.

"Against the overall global economic backdrop, many countries have encountered difficulties. The Chinese economy is also under a downward pressure. But it is a problem in the course of progress," Xi added. "China has the capacity and is in the position to maintain a medium-high growth in the years to come."

A news ticker is seen in midtown Manhattan on August 24, 2015 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Over the past two months, China's stock exchanges have witnessed severe volatility, prompting the Communist Party to undertake several major measures to stem the rout and pacify investors.

However, following the central bank's decision to devalue the yuan -- perceived as a last-ditch effort to stem the slide -- the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled about 40 percent since its June high, upending global markets and deepening fears over the health of the world's second-largest economy.

Xi, however, said that the ups and downs of the stock markets were natural, and defended Beijing's intervention to arrest the plunge.

"The recent unusual fluctuations in the Chinese stock market were mainly the result of previous rapid surges and big fluctuations in the international market," Xi said. "The Chinese government has taken some measures to defuse systemic risks. Such steps have proved successful. ... Thanks to a mix of stabilizing steps taken, the market has entered a stage of self-correction and adjustment."

Xi also played down differences between China and the U. S. over matters of cybersecurity and the former's island-building activities in the South China Sea, claiming that "even family members don't always see eye to eye with each other."

A satellite image shows Chinese forces working on a runway on the disputed Subi reef in the South China Sea. The Diplomat / Digital Globe

"China's development and maintenance of facilities on some of our garrisoned islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands does not impact on or target any other country, and it should not be overinterpreted," Xi said, referring to one island located in one of the disputed island chains that are claimed -- in whole or in part -- by a number of countries.

On cybersecurity -- an area in which China's alleged state-sponsored hacking activities have been labeled an "act of aggression" by the US -- Xi said that the Asian nation itself was a victim.

"China and the United States share common concerns on cybersecurity," Xi told the Journal. "The Chinese government does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form, nor does it encourage or support Chinese companies to engage in such practices in any way."



Theres no doubt that the freelance or gig economy is on the rise. The latest research estimates that the ranks of the American freelancer now comprise 34% of the US workforce, and while theres some dispute over hard-and-fast figures, its been argued that by 2040, the economy will be scarcely recognizable as a result.



Since WWII, the economy does better when there is a Democrat in the White House. That conclusion holds for "almost every metric" of the economy's performance according to research by Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson. But is this due to policy differences between Democratic and Republican administrations? Or, with the limited number of observations since WWII, is this simply a statistical artifact, simply the luck of having Democrats in the office when good things happen?

The dominant position among economists, one I'll push back against, is that presidents have little ability to influence the economy. Steven Dubner, one of the authors of Freakonomics, gives the standard response:

"...just once Id love a presidential candidate to get up there on the stump and say: My fellow Americans, I cant control the US economy. Ive got a little bit of influence but mostly it does what it does. So if it gets worse on my watch, you shouldnt blame me -- and if it happens to get better, you probably shouldnt give me too much credit either."

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Austan Goolsbee, quoted in the same interview, echoes this:

"I think the world vests too much power -- certainly in the president, probably in Washington in general -- for its influence on the economy, because most all of the economy has nothing to do with the government."

I disagree. Whether the president is a Republican or Democrat can make a critical difference for the economy.

Let's begin with monetary policy. Yes, it's true that monetary policy is largely independent of government. But which policies are chosen depends upon who is in control of the Fed. Although the Federal Reserve system was set up so that no president could appoint more than two of the seven Federal Reserve Governors in a four year term, four of the seven in an eight-year term, this is not how the system has worked in recent years.

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Due to the large number of resignations before Federal Reserve Governors have served their full fourteen-year term, both Obama and Bush have appointed all of the members of the Federal Reserve Board. This is important because so long as the seven Board members are united on policy matters, they can dominate the vote on the twelve-member monetary policy committee. Thus, the president has a large influence on the shape of monetary policy. If, for example, John Taylor was currently the chair of the Fed, and if a Republican had appointed the supporting cast, does anyone doubt that policy would have been much different? Would interest rates still be at the lower bound? Would the Fed's balance sheet be as large?

Fiscal policy brings up similar concerns. If a deep recession occurs, both Republican and Democratic administrations are likely to turn to fiscal policy when monetary policy alone is not enough to turn around the economy. But the extent and composition of the policy - tax cuts versus government spending - as well as whom the policy is directed at - the wealthy versus the middle class - make a difference for how well the policy works.

For example, there's little evidence that cutting taxes on the wealthy spurs economic growth, particularly in a severe recession when the tax reductions mostly end up as idle savings (tax cuts for the working class have a larger impact). But there is considerable evidence that government spending has a significant multiplier effect in deep recessions. The current recession is a good example.

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Democrats would support a large investment in infrastructure, or government spending more generally, to spur the economy but can't get Republicans aboard, and Republicans would salivate at a large tax cuts, but Democrats won't go along. This also highlights that it is not just the president alone that matters, the interaction between which party controls congress and which party holds the presidency can also have a large impact on our ability to do fiscal policy at all.

Confidence can also matter. According to the Blinder and Watson results, one of the reasons the economy does better under Democratic administrations is that "consumers, expecting faster growth under Democratic presidents, buy more durable goods on that belief, which makes the economy grow faster." But this goes beyond consumer confidence. When businesses are more confident that the government will intervene actively to stabilize economic fluctuations through monetary and fiscal policy, they will be more willing to make long-term investments, an important component of economic growth.

Finally, although this is unlikely to have a major impact, international relations, support of trade deals, the willingness of foreigners to invest in businesses within the US, and so on can also affect the economy. The real danger here is that the president will do something dumb that causes turmoil in the Middle East and drives oil prices much, much higher (see Republican statements on the campaign trail), or takes some other action that causes a large disruption in international relationships.

Related: This CEO Makes 1,951 Times More Than Most of His Workers

We don't know when the next severe economic downturn will occur. Some type of disruptive economic event, while far from inevitable, could certainly occur within the next decade. Who knows what the composition of the Fed will be when that happens, and how it will react. Will the Fed take a hands-off approach to the next financial downturn or will the Fed be highly interventionist? Will it be willing to do QE once again? If the Fed runs out of ammo, as it did during the Great Recession, will fiscal policy come to the rescue? If so, will it be mostly tax cuts or government spending increases?

Whether the president is a Republican or a Democrat could make a critical difference in how well we respond to the next economic crisis. My own preference - a strong one - is to have a president willing to use fiscal policy if it is needed and willing to appoint Federal Reserve Governors who will also take creative and forceful action in response to disruptive economic forces. Your preference may differ (and thus fly in the face of the evidence) - but make no mistake about it. Your choice at the ballot box could make a big difference to you and your family.



WASHINGTON The United States will press China during a state visit by President Xi Jinping to avoid quick fixes for its economy such as devaluing its currency to boost exports, White House chief economist Jason Furman said on Tuesday.

Furman said Chinas recent loosening of controls on the yuan currency caused turmoil in global financial markets and that US officials would also raise the issue of Chinas volatile stock market.

The overarching message from the Americans is that China needs to make profound changes in its economic model so that growth is powered by consumer spending rather than by investment and exports, he said.

You need to not be doing quick fixes in terms of using your exchange rate or exports, Furman said in an interview with Reuters.

Xi and President Barack Obama are expected to have intense talks about cyber espionage during the Chinese leaders time at the White House on Thursday and Friday, but economic issues are also expected to be high on the agenda.

Furman said the White House, which is concerned that economic fragility abroad will taint US growth, had been monitoring fluctuations in Chinese stock markets closely.

Its certainly something we pay attention to and its something well be engaging with President Xi on this week, he said.

China shocked investors in August by allowing the yuan to devalue sharply. Many analysts took this as a sign Chinas leaders were so worried about a slowing economy that they wanted a weaker currency to prop up exports.

Beijing said the shift was part of a currency reform, but US officials have bristled over what they saw as opacity.

Its not consistent with a transparent rules-based international system, Furman said.

A senior US Treasury official said last week that since the devaluation in August, Chinese authorities have been intervening to stem losses in the yuan, which has been under pressure due to doubts over Chinas growth prospects.

Critics for years complained that China kept its currency artificially weak to boost exports.

America is pressing Beijing to enact fiscal stimulus measures that would boost household consumption.

What were asking is for China to play a responsible role in the global economy and to expand consumer spending and support its growth through consumer spending, Furman said.

(Reporting by Jason Lange and Jeff Mason in Washington; Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Eric Walsh and Andrea Ricci)